Every draft seems to focus on only players considered the cream of the crop and little time is given to those who stand in the shadows. When a team selects a player in the late rounds, little is known about him. So I have reached out to the bloggers for Kansas, Texas, Georgia and Iowa State to get a feel for what kind of player the Bengals drafted. Unfortunately, Eastern Illinois does not have a blogger on SB Nation. I have received a couple of responses and below are their assessments.
The Bengals last pick of the draft, Reggie Stephens from Iowa State, is considered by Cyclones SBNation blogger Mark Kieffer as "as one of the best O-Linemen ISU has had in a while". Kieffer felt that Stephens should have been selected to the All-Big 12 team as he anchored an offensive line that was 24th in the nation in protecting their quarterback. His leadership and intelligence helped Stephens become one of the captains last season. Kieffer however feels that his size may hinder Stephens's ability to pass block, but did say he was effective against Ndamukong Suh. Some felt Stephens struggled during his appearance in the East-West Shrine All-Star game which, according to Mark, may be the reason why he fell to the seventh round. Tough and durable, Stephens played 36 consecutive games before suffering from an appendicitis, which only kept him out for one game. Despite being in pain, he came back helping the team become bowl eligible. Kieffer felt he was a big reason the Cyclones was able to improve from a 2-10 record to 7-6 and a victory over Minnesota in the Insight.com Bowl.
Prior to picking Stephens, the Bengals selected Dezmon Briscoe, wide receiver from Kansas, whose performance was "never questioned" according to Denver Jayhawk, SBNation blogger for the Kansas Jayhawks. Denver Jayhawk says Briscoe is a big game player with games of 200 plus yards against Oklahoma in 2008 and Missouri last season. Denver Jayhawk evaluates Briscoe with "good speed, gets open and will go after the ball" and has the ability to break tackles and make plays. Denver Jayhawk felt that Briscoe would go in the fourth round, but felt his slide was due to the "Ben Roethlisburger" effect of high character as Briscoe was suspended several times for academic problems. Although he was not invited to play in any post season All-star games, he did participate in Kansas's Pro-day and the combine. Neither of those workout were eye catching as he ran a 4.6 forty time and had a low bench rep. This may not translate on the field, but will garner some concern. Briscoe has shown versatility as Denver Jayhawk adds that "Dezmon was able to respond to almost any task asked of him on the field". In his freshman season, Briscoe played slot receiver setting freshman receiving records leading the Jayhawks' Orange Bowl appearance. With the logjam of Bengals receivers, Denver Jayhawk feels this could hamper Briscoe, but may present Briscoe with an opportunity to learn.
This is to provide a bit of a profile of a couple of the late round draft picks, of which very little is known. Based on the profiles provided from the bloggers, Reggie Stephens and Dezmon Briscoe could become viable members of the team. Each player has concerns, but both have plenty of upside. They both will face challenges to make the team, but each can overcome them. Making the roster of a NFL franchise is always tough, but when you're a late round draft pick and no one knows you very well, it just gets tougher.